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Get Real When Training New Staff

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Angie Herbers Angie Herbers

Employee training is a vital part of my work with advisory firms. It’s essential to the success of any business that employees not only know the job they are expected to do, but also are given the training to perform those jobs at the level that is expected of them.

Most firm owners understand and embrace this need for training. But there is another equally important component of employee training that is often left out of most training programs: the core values of their firm, and how those values are translated into client services.

Here are the basics that every new employee needs to be taught about the firm:

1. Core values. To create a successful business, as well as a nice place to work, it’s important that every employee understand what the firm stands for and what’s expected of them.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate document. Simply put into writing the basic mission of your firm, the commitment to its clients, and the type of behavior that’s expected of employees and owners, alike.

You might emphasize things like honesty, friendliness, cooperation, etc. And of course, talk about your commitment to your clients.

2. How those core values translate into client service. It’s essential that every employee understands what the firm does for its clients and why. Financial advice may not be curing cancer, but it has a substantial impact on the lives and happiness of clients, their children and their relatives.

3.  Understanding the type of client you work with. Instruct new employees on who the clients are and what they want from your firm. This certainly pertains to advisory firms with specific types of clients.

Most advisors have spent a significant amount of time understanding their clients’ wants, needs, likes, dislikes, etc. The more you can transfer this understanding to your employees, the better they will be able to work with the firm’s clients — and keep them happy.

4. The client experience. How do you want your clients to feel, and what do you do to make them feel that way?

The most successful advisory firms have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to answering this question — and to creating a firm around consistently delivering the desired experience. Therefore, it’s important that every new employee fully understands this experience and exactly how you and your employees create it.

5. Advisory philosophy.  You don’t need to turn every employee into a financial planner and/or an investment manager, but they will be much better employees if they understand the basics of the services that you provide clients.

6. The firm’s specialty. While most independent firms offer an array of financial services, they typically have one or two services that are the hallmark of the firm.

That means it’s important that every employee have a basic understanding of this specialty, and be able to talk about it intelligently, at least in general terms.

It also means you must have someone take the time to show new employees what your firm does and how it does it. Armed with this knowledge, their jobs will make more sense, too.

Whether it’s answering the phone, scheduling appointments, helping clients sort out problems, or managing human resources, everyone in your firm will be much better employees when they understand what everyone else is doing, and why.

7. Take this training seriously. Avoid the common three-hour data dump of everything you know — they aren’t going to remember half it.

Instead, break new employee training into bite-size pieces, be as clear as possible, and have a number of your senior people take on various segments.

Remember — training new employees to do their jobs is important. Training them to be good employees of your firm is essential.